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In Search of the Holy Grail: Ecological Forecasting in Chesapeake Bay


The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science develops and improves predictive capabilities for managing the Nation’s use of its coastal resources through competitive research programs. This seminar presents results of research funded under two separate NCCOS programs, the Ecological Forecasting (EcoFore) program and the Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB) program.

Under funding from EcoFore, Drs. Hood and Brown were funded to transition to operations a model that combines hydrodynamics with temperature and salinity distributions to predict the likelihood of occurrence of jellyfish and to incorporate these distributions into Chesapeake Bay ecosystem models. Jellyfish are believed to be increasingly important in structuring coastal ecosystems, such as the Chesapeake, and may exert controlling influences on fish populations and energy flow processes via complex mechanisms.

Drs. Hood and Brown were able to build directly upon the model system developed under EcoFore to develop and implement an operational system that will nowcast and forecast the likelihood of blooms of three harmful algal bloom (HAB) species in Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. The HAB prediction system utilizes a new network of continuous in-situ monitors that have been deployed by Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR), and these nowcasts and forecasts will be employed by the this agency to guide their response sampling efforts for HAB monitoring.

These two multi-disciplinary projects span both the development and operationalization of HAB and jellyfish prediction in Chesapeake Bay and 1) provide an improved understanding of HABs, jellyfish, and the factors that give rise to them, 2) develop and implement a methodology to predict the probable occurrence of blooms of these important species in Chesapeake Bay, and 3) implement a robust and automated forecast system to provide early warnings of these extreme natural events and aid in mitigating the deleterious effects of their presence on human and ecosystem health in the bay.

2012 note: The Chesapeake Bay HAB and sea nettle forecasts were located at but no longer seem operational.

Seminar Abstract

Presenters Raleigh R. Hood and Christopher W. Brown will provide an update on NCCOS’s operational modeling efforts aimed at nowcasting and forecasting higher order biological phenomena; specifically focusing on the sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) and a harmful algal bloom species (Karlodinium veneficum). In addition, the presentation will provide information on NCCOS-supported efforts to develop an open source, operational hydrodynamic and biogeochemical model of Chesapeake Bay that can be used to provide nowcasts and short-term forecasts of physical and biogeochemical properties in situ.

Seminar Details

Friday, May 4, 2007
12:00 – 1:00PM EST
(SSMC-4, Room #8150, NOS seminar)
1305 East-West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910

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